UK federal government urged to prohibit routine antibiotic use on farm animals as superbugs discovered in waterways abroad

UK federal government urged to prohibit routine antibiotic use on farm animals as superbugs discovered in waterways abroad

The UK government is being prompted to ban antibiotic usage on healthy farm animals in line with the EU following research by World Animal Defense that discovered antibiotic resistant superbugs hazardous to public health in rivers and lakes next to factory farms in Spain, the USA, Canada and Thailand.

The report, ‘ Silent superbug killers in a river near you’, found Antibiotic Resistance Genes (ARGs) downstream from agriculture and polluted samples upstream in locations with a high concentration of pig farms. This recommends factory farms might be discharging ARGs and superbugs into the wider environment as an outcome of pig waste being spread out on fields and dripping into public waterways.

Antibiotics are given to healthy animals in poor factory farm conditions to stop them getting ill and the EU will be banning this practice from 28 th January2022


Lindsay Duncan, World Animal Defense farming campaigns manager stated, “Superbugs emerge due to the overuse of antibiotics on animals in factory farms and we’re getting in touch with the UK federal government to follow the EU’s lead and restriction regular use. Raising animal welfare on farms is crucial to reducing antibiotic use and assisting avoid antibiotic resistance which the World Health Organisation (WHO) price quotes will kill 10 million individuals a year by 2050[3]

The superbug crisis positions a threat that might eclipse the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, more than 700,000 individuals pass away each year from superbugs where antibiotics are ineffective in treating infections.

The World Animal Defense investigation found ARGs resistant to antibiotics consisting of: 3rd generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, colistin and macrolides, which are of many concern to the WHO. These antibiotics are the last line of defense for common infections like urinary tract infections or to keep patients alive with life threatening conditions like breathing infections, when other antibiotics stop working.

The WHO advises that prescription antibiotics ought to not be routinely utilized to avoid disease across groups of stock[4] Regardless of this, the practice stays widespread on terrible agriculture with as much as 75%of the world’s prescription antibiotics utilized on stock[5]

Suzi Shingler, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics campaign manager,” These findings are extremely alarming as they reveal that it’s possible for any resistance emerging among farm animals to transfer out of the farm by means of the surrounding waterways.

World Animal Security likewise spoke with individuals from local neighborhoods to evaluate their experiences and direct accounts. Numerous complained about the farms but were too scared to speak up.

One smallholder farmer who wished to remain confidential in Thailand said:

” Rice does not grow the way it ought to when the farms launch the water to the field. Some rice crops are damaged and some just pass away. Fish can’t also live in the pond, it’s actually the whole community in this location. I used to grumble about this, but absolutely nothing has taken place.”

Another local, referred to as simply Rosa, who resides in the Aragon region in Spain said:
” Without water there is no future, and here we do not have any water to spare. These towns will not make it through if you can not open the windows, or be outdoors or walk, if you can not consume the tap water, or if we lose our excellent destination, which is the landscapes and harmony.

” The meat lobby is extremely powerful, and the earnings of a couple of companies is taking precedence over public health.”

In England the most recent figures from the Environment Firm reveal that all rivers have actually failed to satisfy quality tests for contamination with agricultural run-off among the key sources of pollution.[6]

World Animal Defense is calling for federal governments to prohibit the regular use of antibiotics to avoid disease across groups of stock and to make sure that staying factory farms fulfill FARMS animal welfare standards at a minimum.

You can read the complete report here


Notes to Editors

For media interviews, images or video, please contact: George White; [email protected]; 0207239 0634; 07814 695 298

  1. Superbugs are antibiotic-resistant germs and have been called one of the most significant hazards to global health and development. The overuse of antibiotics has actually resulted in the spread of superbugs, and effects millions of people around the world, especially in developing nations. 700,000 people around the world die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, and this is projected to increase to 10 million deaths every year by 2050.
  2. The United Nations Environment Programme has actually acknowledged that antibiotics are used to mask low welfare conditions on farms and called for an end to unsustainable agricultural practices and more investment in sustainable, agroecological systems[7]
  3. A 2020 survey commissioned by World Animal Protection throughout 15 countries found that 88%of people are worried about superbugs from farm animals, and desire animals dealt with well. Two-thirds of individuals would help evaluate for contamination from farms to hold industry to account.
  4. There is no international standard describing the concentration at which superbugs in the environment ended up being dangerous to individuals. No one is being held responsible and farm discharge of antibiotics and superbugs into water ways are unmonitored.

Key results from each country from the investigation


Testing found ARGs resistant to tetracycline, streptomycin, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and macrolides in surface water and sediments.


Testing found ARGs resistant to tetracycline, sulfonamides, cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones.


Evaluating of water and sediment discovered ARGs and superbugs resistant to third generation cephalosporins, fluroquinolones, or colistin plus co-trimoxazole, gentamicin, amikacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or amoxicillin.


Evaluating of water and sediment or soil found very broad evidence of ARGs conveying resistant to streptomycin, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, macrolides and a lot of broadly tetracycline.


World Animal Protection seeks to produce a world where animal well-being matters, and animal cruelty has ended. Active in more than 50 countries, we work directly with animals and with the people and organisations that can guarantee animals are treated with regard and compassion. We hold consultative status at the Council of Europe and team up with national governments and the United Nations.

[1] Pig World UK exports up html


[2] Pig meat trade


[3] Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Antimicrobial resistance: taking on a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. Available from: Review Paper – Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations_1.

[4] World Health Organisation. eng.pdf

[5] Ritchie, H. Three-quarters of antibiotics are utilized on animals. Offered from: three-quarters-of-antibiotics-are-used-on-animals-heres-why-thats-a-major-problem

[6] Environment Agency. The state of our waters: the realities: the-state-of-our-waters-the-facts/


[7] United Nations Environment Program, Preventing the next pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission. 2020.

Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of World Animal Defense, on Wednesday 7 April,2021 For more information subscribe and follow

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